Two young women place ‘shrimps’ in quick succession at an opening on top of a small machine as a young man rotates a lever to crush the tiny creatures into powder.
The powder ends up on a tray from where it is placed in a sack. The members of Kibaokiche Fish Farmers Group in Kilifi County are making fish feeds for sale.
Though it looks a tedious exercise due to the small capacity of the machine, the members of the group are doing it with precision and great determination.
Vincent Kalama, the chairperson of the group, says the engage in keeping and selling fish as well as making their feeds.
“The main goal of the group is to provide youth employment, saving youths from activities like drug and substance abuse, early marriages and violent extremism, which are rampant at the Coast,” he says.
The group has 15 members, 11 men and four females whose ages range from 24-32. “We choose fish farming because we had been trained by the county fisheries department on the value chain,” says Kalama, noting they keep fish in ponds.
He adds that fish farming does not require much labour thus members of the group can engage in other activities.
“We keep tilapia and catfish which we sell fresh from the ponds after weighing so that customers get exact quantities. We sell at least 300kg a week,” says Kalama.
The feed formulation skills they learnt from Kilifi County Fisheries Department. “We use the Pearson square methods to formulate the fish feeds with both 30 per cent and 25 per cent protein content for catfish and tilapia respectively. We use mainly maize germ, fish meal, copra, wheat flour and water. These fish feeds contain maximum proteins for the fish,” he adds.
They not only offer the feeds to their fish but also sell it to other farmers, making good cash in the process.
“We also offer credit sales to customers and discount to bulk buyers to boost relations. The main buyers of our products are learning institutions, hotels like Dam View and fish mongers,” he says, adding they sell the feeds to fish farmers in Kibaokiche village.
In August, the group bought a deep freezer for storage of the fish before selling to customers after acquiring a loan of Sh250,000 from a microfinance funds and also purchased a motorbike, which they use to distribute their products.
They have also received additional funding and training from Vijabiz, a youth economic empowerment through agribusiness project in Kenya, which is implemented by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the USTADI Foundation and funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).Youth
“We are currently working to a get Kenya Bureau of Standards certificate for our fish feeds business,” says Asia Nimi Athman
Some of the challenges they have to grapple with include recent closure of hotels, their main market and water shortages.
“We have applied for financial support to install water reservoir which would lower the production cost. We also plan to dig a borehole from our members’ support,” she says.